WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and John Thune (R-SD), along with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee Mike Crapo (R-ID) and dozens of their Senate Republican colleagues, introduced legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate tax, more commonly known as the death tax. The Death Tax Repeal Act would end this purely punitive tax that has the potential to hit family-run farms, ranches and businesses as the result of the owner’s death.
“The Death Tax hangs over too many family agriculture operations and small businesses as a potential destroyer of generations worth of work and investment. They deserve the opportunity to pass down what they’ve dedicated their lives to with the peace of mind that it can continue on. I remain committed to ending this detrimental, disincentivizing threat against families in Arkansas and across the country in the interest of fairness and sound economic policy,” Boozman said.
“Agriculture is the backbone of South Dakota’s economy,” said Thune. “For years I have fought to protect farm and ranch families from the onerous and unfair death tax. Family-owned farms and ranches often bear the brunt of this tax, which makes it difficult and costly to pass these businesses down to future generations. I will continue to do everything in my power to remove these roadblocks for family businesses and repeal the death tax once and for all.”
“For far too long, the death tax has wreaked havoc on farm families and small businesses across Kentucky. The burden of this unfair and punitive tax can be devastating for families who only want to pass down their hard-earned livelihoods to the next generation. Washington Democrats need to recognize the economic damage they’ve inflicted and join Republicans in ending this harmful tax,” said McConnell. “I’m proud to stand with Senator Thune for repealing the death tax for good. Kentuckians must be allowed to build upon the legacies of their family farms without fear of financial ruin.”
“High federal taxes should not prevent farmers, entrepreneurs and savers – who have worked a lifetime to leave something to the next generation – from passing their business to their children,” said Crapo. “We need to permanently repeal this punitive tax, and I thank Senator Thune for leading this years-long effort.”
“No cattle producer should ever be forced to sell their family’s farm or ranch to pay a tax bill due to the death of a family member,” said Todd Wilkinson, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and South Dakota cattle producer. “Repealing the death tax is a commonsense way to keep the farm or ranch in the family. As a land-based, capital-intensive industry, most cattle producing families are asset-rich and cash-poor, with few options to pay off tax liabilities. It is unacceptable that some families are forced to sell off land, farm equipment, parts of the operation, or the entire ranch to pay the estate tax. We need a tax code that promotes the continuation of family-owned businesses instead of breaking them up.”
The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Katie Britt (R-AL), Ted Budd (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Josh Hawley (R-MO), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Kennedy (R-LA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Rick Scott (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
Senate Republicans have persistently fought to end the estate tax, including through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017. Although the final version of the TCJA did not repeal the death tax, the law effectively doubled the individual estate and gift tax exclusion to $10 million ($12.9 million in 2023 dollars) through 2025, which prevents more families and generationally-owned businesses from being affected by it. The increased exclusion expires at the end of 2025, which increases uncertainty and planning costs for family-owned businesses, farms and ranches.
The bill is supported by more than 150 members of the Family Business Coalition and 111 members of the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, which includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Policy and Taxation Group, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Association of Manufacturers and many others. Read further quotes of support for the Death Tax Repeal Act here.